Hidden Charges for Coach Hire

Driving down the M3 sitting behind a National Express coach I was struck by an advert which said Portsmouth to London for 99p. Bus services and Airlines (thank you Easyjet and Ryanair) have always been creative in their headline prices but is this type of ‘pricing tactic’ spreading to coach hire?

The inherent problem of any online pricing business is it is always subject to the variables of the specific booking -so for airlines this includes mode of payment, hand luggage or check in luggage, self checkin or agent check in, etc, etc.

To a degree the same applies to coach hire. Following a customer complaint that we would not waive the second driver required on a trip (health and safety is not negotiable) we decided to review the last 20,000 trips we carried out (approximately 18 months) to see how often our ultimate charge deviated from the initial quote. The findings were as follows:

1.     Credit Card Charges                                  33% of bookings

2.     Client requesting additional pick up/drops    6% of bookings

3.     Second Driver required                              3.4% of bookings

4.     Miscellaneous                                            0.7% of bookings

So what does this mean for coach hire pricing? It basically means that as mode of payment and additional drops/pick ups are within the clients control then less than 5% of trips result in price changes being imposed on the the client. As the laws of the the land are also beyond the coach hire operators control and indeed few would argue against the control of driver hours for health and safety reasons.

So less than 1% of trips result in the customer being ‘hit with additional charges’ such as driver accomodation, parking or other items.

Conclusion? Coach Hire is a long way from being in the same boat as Airlines and Buses.

One final point on credit card charges. Credit card companies charge between 1% and 3% for Companies to process card payments. American Express are the exception to this as they seem to charge 2% more than the other Companies. These should be borne in mind when considering whether card charges are a legitimate cost or padding in the prices.

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